ADA Requirements and Paying Tenants

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Q: One of my elderly residents recently fell and broke her hip, and it looks like she won’t be getting around very well ever again. She has been living in our building for many years and I would hate to see her move, everyone loves her. Her daughter asked if I would install grab bars in the shower and in the bathroom, and kind of implied that I must do it at my expense because of the ADA requirements, whatever they are. Now this resident is very sweet, but I just cannot afford to spend the money; my husband and I are barely making it as it is. Do I have to allow my resident to install the grab bars and do I have to pay for the cost?

A:
A landlord must allow a disabled tenant to make reasonable modifications to the rental unit to the extent necessary to allow the tenant full enjoyment of the premises. The tenant, not the landlord, must pay for the modifications. As a condition of making the modifications, you may require the tenant to enter into an agreement to restore the premises to their original condition upon termination of the tenancy. You cannot require an additional security deposit in this situation, but you can require the tenant to pay a reasonable estimate of the restoration cost into an escrow account to ensure that the property is returned to its original condition.

Q: My tenants and I have had a very good relationship. They have been paying the rent on time and they don’t disturb any of their neighbors. In the past, I‘ve hired them to take care of various projects around the complex. The work done has been satisfactory. Until recently, I would either pay them in cash, or simply drop off a check in their mailbox. Now, the tenants are asking me to offset their payment from their rent. I told them I’d think about it and get back to them. If I accept their request to just offset the value of their repair work from the rent, am I asking for trouble?

A:
You should never mix your tenancy relationship with the work performed by your tenants. Keep the relationships separate and distinct. Not only is it good business practice, but it also prevents many legal issues from arising. If you mix the issues of services performed in exchange for payment of the rent, you have now expanded your tenant’s potential defenses as to why he or she should not pay the rent. If the rent is a separate transaction, the tenant will have no claim that he is entitled to a reduction or a credit for work performed but not paid. Also, if you have problems with the tenant’s work product, you can hash out those work-related issues while the tenant continues to pay rent. Be very cautious when allowing your tenants to perform work on your building. The benefits may seem great, but the pitfalls are many.

 

This article is presented in a general nature to address typical landlord tenant legal issues. Specific inquiries regarding a particular situation should be addressed to your attorney. The Duringer Law Group, PLC, one of the largest and most experienced landlord tenant law firms, and has collected over $155,000,000.00 in debt since 1988. The firm may be reached at 714.279.1100, toll free at 800.829.6994 or 877.387.4643. Please visit www.DuringerLaw.com for more information and to sign up for our periodic newsletter.

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